Autism Services Center

Western Michigan University’s Autism Services Center (ASC) provides transition support for autistic/neurodiverse college students and students who identify with needing additional support. Students are not required to have a formal diagnosis to work with the ASC. For students with documented disabilities, these services are beyond the reasonable accommodations provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act and WMU’s Disability Services for Students. Support components include weekly one-on-one meetings with ASC staff, workshops, structured study times, organized social events, and increased communication between students and professors, staff, and parents/support system.

Mission Statement

To improve the lives of young adults with disabilities by:

  • Helping to reduce the barriers that exist in higher education by supporting students, staff, and faculty through training and communication.
  • Providing transition services and college preparation opportunities to high school students with disabilities who are considering continuing on for their post-secondary education.
  • Supporting students with disabilities once on WMU’s campus in collaboration with the Office for Disability Services for Students (DSS)
  • Helping students prepare for part-time employment during their time at WMU and for a career after attaining a degree

Information about the supports provided by the ASC at Western Michigan University can be found in the Information and Application tab. Meetings to gather more information about ASC services can be requested by emailing

We look forward to meeting you!

Kourtney Bakalyar, Ed.D., BCBA, LBA
Autism Services Center

Alyssa McElroy, MA, BCBA, LBA
Assistant Director
Autism Services Center

The services provided by Western Michigan University’s Autism Services Center were developed to support autistic/neurodiverse college students; however, an official diagnosis of ASD or any disability is not necessary. Services are available for WMU students without disabilities as long as there are resources available.

ASC Services

ASC provides support beyond the reasonable accommodations provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act. These services include:

  • Weekly one-on-one meetings with an ASC staff member or graduate point person to work on individual short- and long-term academic, social, independent living skills, and employment goals.
  • Structured Study Times on a campus location with access to tutors, computers, and printers.
  • Workshops and informational sessions that address the needs of the ASC students.
  • Communication with parents/support system within the parameters of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • Supported communication between students and their faculty and WMU staff (advisors, residence hall directors, and on-campus employers).
  • Increased social opportunities, such as weekly social events, connecting students with similar interests, and an ASC Discord server.
  • Regularly scheduled virtual parent/support system meetings for those who want to join.

ASC does not:

  • Manage students’ medication.
  • Attend classes with students.
  • Have staff that is available 24 hours/day.
  • Have real time access to students’ grades.
  • Communicate with parents/support system if FERPA rights are not waived.

ASC Application and Enrollment Process

The ASC is no longer accepting applications for the Fall 2023 semester. We encourage interested students to submit their application to initiate the enrollment process. Students will be added to the waitlist for the Spring 2024 semester.

We are now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 Academic Year.

  1. Students must apply and be accepted to by Western Michigan University.
  2. Once accepted, students must return a completed ASC application and completed parent/support system questionnaire to ASC.
  3. When all items are completed and submitted to ASC, you will be contacted to schedule an interview with the director of ASC.
  4. Services are provided on a first-come/first-serve basis, until capacity is reached. Acceptance into ASC will be based on the date of complete application submission. We will contact you within two weeks of the interview with the decision of acceptance or waitlist status; in most cases, students will know the day of the interview if they have been accepted.
  5. Once accepted, the $2,000/semester service charge will be added to the student’s WMU account.

What to Expect from the Interview

The interview with the ASC director is a chance for the director to get to know incoming students and their families (if involved), but also for students and families to get to know the ASC director and services. The student’s strengths and needs will be the focus of the meeting. It is also a chance for the ASC director to learn about the student’s goals, interests, and comfort with transitioning to WMU.

Events for Current Students

ASC Staff, Peer Mentors, and Students plan events each semester. These events typically consist of joining campus and community events and supporting students with selecting and planning activities with their peers. Previous events have included:

  • Homecoming Tailgate for ASC students and families
  • Attending WMU sponsored events on campus (e.g., Bronco Bash)
  • Planning and hosting movie/game nights
  • Planning and supporting trips to various community locations (e.g., Downtown Kalamazoo, Maple Hill Pavilion, Kalamazoo 10 Movie Theater)
  • WMU Campus Scavenger Hunt

Weekly Workshops

PEERS® for Young Adults
(Dr. Kourtney Bakalyar is a PEERS Young Adult Certified Provider.)

  • Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) for Young Adults (Ages 18-35) is an evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated young adults, who are interested in learning skills to make and keep friends and develop romantic relationships. During each group session, young adults are taught important social skills and are given the opportunity to practice these skills.
    • Topics of Instruction:
      • How to use appropriate conversational skills
      • How to choose appropriate friends
      • How to appropriately use electronic forms of communication
      • How to appropriately use humor and assess humor feedback
      • How to start, enter, and exit conversations between peers
      • How to organize successful get-togethers with friends
      • How to develop romantic relationships and use appropriate dating etiquette
      • How to handle arguments and disagreements with friends and in relationships
      • How to handle rejection, teasing, bullying, and rumors/gossip

Interview Preparation using Big Interview

  • Big Interview is a free digital platform available to all WMU students who can use it to learn and practice interview skills. With Big Interview, students can get hands-on training with mock interviews that are tailored to their specific industry, job, and experience level. Big Interview offers instructional videos, an interactive mock interview tool, and a variety of general, behavioral, and technical practice interview questions.
  • Each week, students meet to work on their interview skills and prepare their resumes and other written products for connecting with potential employers. Each session includes instruction, development of interview responses or written products, practice, and feedback.

Study Skills and Time Management

  • Each week, students meet to learn about a variety of study and time management skills and how to incorporate these skills into their lives. Topics covered include:
    • Using calendars and to-do lists
    • Forecasting time and prioritizing assignments
    • Note-taking skills
    • Using the WMU library resources
    • Academic writing
    • Strategies for exam prep

Contact Dr. Kourtney Bakalyar if you have ideas for workshops.

Workforce Recruitment Program

WMU participates in the Workforce Recruitment Program. The WRP is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with college students and recent graduates with disabilities through summer or permanent jobs

First-Year and Transfer Students

As you plan for the fall semester, consider connecting with Western Michigan University’s Autism Services Center (ASC) and Disability Services for Students (DSS). ASC staff is available to meet virtually or in-person to discuss services and answer questions. ASC staff will frequently meet with students and families when they attend Admissions Open Houses or Admitted Student Events. Please contact the ASC in advance to schedule a time to meet.

Western Michigan University’s Autism Services Center saw the need for programs that help autistic/neurodiverse high school students build the social, communication, and independent living skills they need to make a successful transition to higher education. The ASC provides two unique summer programs. The Summer Transition Program (STP) is geared towards juniors, seniors, recent college graduates, and transfer students who plan on attending or have been admitted to a college or university. The College Exploration Week (CEW) is geared towards high school students who are interested in exploring college as a potential post-secondary option.

Summer Transition Program (STP)

Planning for the Summer Transition Program 2024 is underway. Information and application packets are ready! Please email for the application packet.

STP participants:

  • Enroll in a 3 or 4-credit WMU course of the student’s choosing.
  • Work in paid on-campus employment for up to 10 hours a week.
  • Participate in instruction focused on pre-employment, social, study, academic, and transition skills.
  • Live in a residence hall for 7.5 weeks.
  • Meet weekly with an ASC graduate point person.
  • Meet weekly with a peer mentor.
  • Engage in a variety of social opportunities, such as going to the Student Recreation Center, game nights, and movie nights.

Information for Potential Summer Transition Program Students

  • Participants are typically juniors, seniors, recent high school graduates, or transfer students.
  • ASC Summer Transition Program is designed for autistic/neurodiverse individuals who are planning to attend a university after high school.
  • Summer Transition Program Students must be 18 years old or older or 17 years old and attending WMU as a degree seeking student for the Fall 2023 semester.
  • The 2023 program will run from June 28 to August 18.
    • Students may go home on the weekends, just as if they were first-year students at WMU.
  • For more information about the ASC Summer Transition Program, please email

College Exploration Week (CEW)

College Exploration Week provides participants with the opportunity to stay on WMU’s campus and gain valuable information about the college experience. Depending on the number of interested participants, several weeks may be offered during July and August.

College Exploration Week will not be offered Summer 2024; we are sorry for this inconvenience.

CEW participants:

  • Stay in a WMU Residence Hall for 4 nights under ASC supervision.
  • Tour various WMU colleges (such as Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Development, Engineering, and more!) to gain information about potential majors.
  • Participate in the Focus 2.0 Assessment, which helps students identify job preferences and employment strengths and skills.
  • Learn about the in’s and out’s of college during ASC lead informational sessions.
  • Experience a variety of campus amenities, such as the dining halls, campus bus, and student recreation center.
  • Engage with ASC Peer Mentors during structured social events.

Information for Potential College Exploration Week Participants

  • Participants are typically high school sophomores and juniors.
  • ASC College Exploration Week is designed for autistic/neurodiverse individuals who are interested in exploring the option of attending a university after high school.
  • College Exploration Week participants must be under the age of 18 and parental/guardian approval. Additional paperwork is required.
  • For more information about the ASC College Exploration Week, please email
Dr. Kourtney Bakalyar, BCBA, LBA

(269) 387-4349
Seibert Administration Building, Room 2063 (Inside Room 2080)

Alyssa McElroy, MA, BCBA, LBA
Assistant Director

(269) 387-4925
Seibert Administration Building, Room 2063 (Inside Room 2080)